If you’re debating staying in Castlebar in Mayo, you’ve landed in the right place.
A bustling market town, Castlebar is a fine little base for seeing some of the most popular places to visit in Mayo.
The town itself is steeped in history and packed with a variety of attractions, including the National Museum of Ireland, the picturesque Lough Lannagh, and Linenhall Arts Centre.
In the guide below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Castlebar in Mayo to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows about Castlebar in Mayo
Although a visit to Castlebar in Mayo is nice and straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Located in County Mayo, Castlebar is a 20-minute drive from Newport, a 15-minute drive from Westport, a 30-minute drive from Ballina, a 35-minute drive from Cong and a 1-hour drive from Achill Island.
Castlebar derives its name from the historic de Barra Castle which was built in the area in the 13th century.
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A very brief history of Castlebar
There was a castle in the area called De Barra/Barry’s castle. It was built in the 13th century by a Norman adventurer and was later used as a garrison by the English.
The town of Castlebar was no stranger to armed conflict. For instance, the Irish rebellion of 1798 took place here. General Humbert who was the commander of the French forces aided in a rout of the British garrison right in the town.
At the beginning of the 17th century, Castlebar received its charter from King James I. Michael Davitt also founded the Irish National Land League at the town’s Imperial Hotel in 1879.
Things to do in Castlebar
As you’ll discover in our guide to the best things to do in Castlebar, there are a handful of things to do in the town and an endless number of things to do neaby.
Below, you’ll find everything from hikes and walks to the brilliant Castlebar Greenway and much, much more.
1. Head off on the Castlebar Greenway
Connecting the National Museum of Ireland in Turlough Park with the county town of Castlebar, this greenway is a pleasant 7.3 km long linear route that follows the picturesque Castlebar River.
It will take you about 90 minutes to complete this trail and you’ll pass by native woodland and open countryside as you cycle.
The route is mostly flat with only one steep hill, which makes it a nice, handy cycle for the most part.
2. Spend a rainy day at the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life
You will find the National Museum of Ireland – Country Life in Turlough Park which is located about 8km from the centre of Castlebar.
Established over 20 years ago as part of the National Museum of Ireland, this fully restored museum is nestled amid lovely gardens and a beautiful artificial lake.
Here, you can learn more about Irish country life between 1850 and 1950. Expect to see everything from interactive screens and archival video footage to displays and artifacts.
3. And a sunny day walking around Lough Lannagh
If you’re staying in Castlebar, then a visit to Lough Lannagh is simply a must! Spend a sunny day walking around the lake and admiring its natural beauty.
This popular picnic area boasts many new paths and walking trails for visitors to enjoy. Make sure to keep an eye out for the rounded bridges and you can even try stand-up paddle-boarding on the lake.
4. Visit the waterfall Tourmakeady Woods (27-minutes away)
Nestled among the native Irish trees, the magical Tourmakeady Waterfall is without a doubt one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the Wild Atlantic Way.
Step inside the forest and admire the beauty of trees like oak, alder, birch, hazel, ash, and Scots pine before reaching Tourmakeady Wood’s signature feature – the waterfall.
Along the way, you may even come across spectacular wildlife including pine markets, badgers, foxes, and squirrels. Here’s a full guide to the walk.
5. Or take a spin out to Westport and climb Croagh Patrick (23-minutes away)
If you fancy a hike, you can’t go wrong with a morning spent climbing Croagh Patrick, the holiest mountain in Ireland. Overlooking Clew Bay, the mountain is associated with Ireland’s patron saint, St Patrick.
It is one of the most famous landmarks in County Mayo and attracts large crowds of visitors throughout the year.
There is a tradition of pilgrimage to the summit of Croagh Patrick that stretches back over 5,000 years. Make sure to check out the Croagh Patrick Information Centre that is located at the base of the mountain in the village of Murrisk.
Although we go into where to stay in more detail in our guide to the best hotels in Castlebar, I’ll give you a taste of what’s on offer below.
Note: if you book a hotel through one of the links below we may make a tiny commission that helps us keep this site going. You won’t pay extra, but we really do appreciate it.
1. The Ellison
Visitors who wish to stay in the centre of Castlebar can book accommodation at the Ellison. This fabulous 4-star hotel is located just a short walk from the town’s main attractions, pubs, and restaurants. The train station is just a short drive away from the property, too, if you aren’t driving. The rooms are tastefully decorated and boast luxurious amenities including Hypnos beds and luxury linen.
2. Breaffy House Hotel and Spa
Nestled on a beautiful woodland estate, the Breaffy House Hotel and Spa is one of my favourite hotels in Mayo, and you’ll find it located just a short drive from the centre of Castlebar. This 19th century Victorian Manor property offers easy access to the Wild Atlantic Way and serves as an excellent base for exploring County Mayo.
There’s a surprising number of pubs in Castlebar Town, many of which could go toe-to-toe with some of the better-known pubs in Mayo. Here are our favourites.
1. McHales Pub
Welcome to McHales Pub, one of the oldest pubs in Castlebar. If you’re fond of old-school pubs where the only thing better than the Guinness is the service, you’ll enjoy an evening here. We’ve also heard a lot of good things about the food, too!
2. Tolster’s Bar
If you are looking for a place to watch a match while enjoying a good pint and some pub grub, make your way to Tolster’s Bar. This is another pub that’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time when you ramble through it’s doors, and I mean that in the best way possible.
3. The Irish House Bar
Located on the Main Street in Castlebar, the Irish House Bar is an award-winning pub that offers a fine selection of Irish beers, freshly made sandwiches, and wraps. The bar is split into three sections and there is also a nice covered outdoor seating area where you can unwind in the summer months.
Although we’ve covered the best restaurants in Castlebar a lot in the past, I’ll give you a taste (terrible pub intended…) of what to expect if you’re visiting the town.
1. House of plates
House of Plates is a concept restaurant that focuses on reasonably priced and delicious shared plates. You’ll find this cosy restaurant in the centre of Castlebar and, in addition to tasty foods, this dining establishment boasts a lovely décor where many features are made from recycled materials.
2. Lana Castlebar Asian Street Food
If you fancy sampling some tasty Asian Street Food while staying in Castlebar, look no further than the legendary Lana Castlebar Asian Street Food. Whether you go for the classic pad Thai chicken or the mouthwatering Singapore noodles, every dish on this restaurant’s menu is crafted to perfection.
3. Bar One
Located on Rush Street in the centre of the town, Bar One is a real haven for seafood and meat lovers. Run by Mark Cadden, this place knocks up a beautiful, signature battered cod with homemade chips and some banging tiger prawns. If you prefer meat dishes, the smoked air-dried lamb is out of this world.
FAQs about visiting Castlebar in Mayo
Since mentioning the town in a guide to Mayo that we published several years ago, we’ve had hundreds of emails asking various things about Castlebar in Mayo.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Castlebar worth visiting?
Yes! Castlebar is grand little place to stop off in for food if you’re exploring this corner of Mayo. It also makes a great base for exploring the county.
What are the best things to do in Castlebar?
Arguably the best of the many things to do in Castlebar is to head off on the Castlebar Greenway. However, both you can also spend a day walking around Lough Lannagh or a rainy morning at the National Museum of Ireland.
Are there many places to eat in Castlebar?
Yes – there’s plenty of cafes, pubs and restaurants in Castlebar in Mayo where you can grab either a casual or a more formal bite-to-eat.